Welcome to Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, where indie moviemaker Jayce Bartok talks about the dos and don’ts of crowdfunding from the trenches of his own crowdfunding campaign. Have a question for Jayce about his movie, Tiny Dancer, or just crowdfunding in general? Ask away at .
It’s only been a week since Tiffany and I were sitting in Ron Nyswaner’s condo in Deer Valley, Utah awaiting the Sundance premiere of Predisposed, the film Nyswaner co-directed with Phil Dorling. Already, it seems like it never happened. The mix of altitude and headiness has given the whole affair the feel of a dream, especially seeing as Tiffany and I have since returned to the grind of trying to raise the rest of our budget for Tiny Dancer, and I’ve jumped into the TV pilot season as an actor.
Presdisposed occupied Sundance’s last official premiere spot: The day before the awards ceremony. It’s a spot that’s hard to fill, since apparently everyone has already left Sundance by that point. But, given its amazing cast (it stars Melissa Leo, Jesse Eisenberg and Tracy Morgan), people were excited about seeing it.
On Friday morning, I took my son skiing and ran into Phil Dorling on the shuttle. (The shuttle is where you run into everyone at Sundance. In fact, if you were on a budget, you could just ride the shuttles all day and night, handing out your press kit to the crowds shuttling to and fro. You might have some good fortune.) Phil was super-excited to be at Sundance with the feature version of the film, which is based on a short film directed by him and Nyswaner that played at Sundance in 2009. (It seems that Sundance programmers really make a point of being loyal to moviemakers who have had a short at the festival then return a few years later with a feature. So if you can only raise a few thousand dollars, think about making an amazing short as a way to open doors, like Phil did.) Phil and I chatted about how he had already been at Sundance for 10 or so days and was excited to finally see his film that night.
So, back at Ron’s condo, the cast and producers of Predisposed gathered for a pre-premiere dinner. It was a family affair, with Emma Rayne Lyle (who plays Melissa Leo’s young daughter in the film) and Kai Chapman (who plays a particularly good bully) in attendance, along with Tiffany and I, plus everyone’s families. The mood was good. There was excitement about the prospect of Predisposed premiering so late in a Sundance that had seen very conservative sales up to that point. Plus, the film was produced by Armian Pictures and BCDF Pictures, the latter of which also produced the hot festival titles Liberal Arts (directed by Josh Radnor, sold to IFC Films) and Bachelorette (starring Kirsten Dunst, co-produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay)… so that could only help, right?
At 9:00 we all headed back to the gigantic Eccles Theatre. It seemed to be a repeat of Price Check, which had premiered two nights before. But when we lined up to walk the red carpet, instead of 30 photographers, there were only three. I quickly deduced that, because of the late premiere date of the film (and Tracy Morgan’s health scare), there were no members of the main cast in attendance. It gave me a slightly strange feeling to be representing a film I have two scenes in, but at Sundance, you learn to just go with it. We took our seats, the film started, and the audience went on a journey with Melissa Leo’s Penny, a crazy mother of two trying to get clean from her addictions.
This time, there was no after-party, just small bands of producers secretly conferring in the corners of the Eccles as the audience filed out. A high point for me was talking to a Sundance volunteer (if you’re out there, write me and tell me your name) who recognized me from both films.
I feel I should note here how hard I watched both Dolly Hall (Price Check’s producer) and Predisposed co-producer Neda Armian, a friend of Tiffany’s and mine, work to get their respective films to Sundance. While it was great to see both films at the festival, it was also frightening to wonder whether they would both sell. I hope to see both films out in theaters later this year, but they might show up on cable, VOD or some newer form of technology that will bridge the gap between movies and audiences.
Tiff and I finished our Sundance experience by visiting some friends, including Gen Art Film Festival co-president Jeffrey Abramson, who noted as we were taking advantage of the free coffee in the Sundance Channel HQ lounge that this year was his 19th at Sundance. Whoa. These kinds of informational chats—swapping mini film reviews and generally taking in the circus—are my favorite memories from Sundance. On Saturday, the last day we were there, the mood definitely shifted. Things got spooky-quiet: You could hear the ski lift clanking, and the sun seemed to shine especially bright on Main Street as the native Utahians took control over the last few days of the festival.
I couldn’t help but feel a little blue that it was ending, even though we managed to score tickets for a Saturday screening of Bachelorette (which is hilarious, FYI). So Tiff suggested we take a drive up to where it all started: Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, home to the Sundance Labs, situated among some of the most beautiful scenery ever. We made the 45-minute drive up to the beautiful mountain valley filled with babbling streams, horses, little wooden cabins… and I couldn’t help thinking that this is what it’s all about. Out here, one can focus their artistic energies, write the perfect script and get counsel from Mr. Redford himself!
Away from the craziness of Main Street, my most lasting Sundance memory is of that afternoon spent at the Resort, looking at all those wooden cabins and wondering what great films would be developed in the Sundance Labs in the coming years… maybe it will be one of ours.
Jayce Bartok is an actor/producer/writer/director who runs Vinyl Foote Productions from Brooklyn with his wife Tiffany. He wrote, co-produced and starred in The Cake Eaters and can currently be seen in USA’s “White Collar” and in the upcoming feature films Predisposed, opposite Melissa Leo, and Price Check, both of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. To stay updated on his Tiny Dancer progress, follow @JayceBartok and @TICNYC on Twitter.